I got told that I “look like a graphic designer” recently.
Now as I didn’t have a big sticker saying on me saying that my job was a graphic designer it got me thinking, do people in the design industry have some sort of template that we all fit into?
I’m talking mainly about fashion style and dress sense here.
Now I’ve never been one to dress particularly smartly…..in fact I normally dress pretty scruffy.
Don’t get that confused with personal hygiene. I shower and wash as much as the next guy and the same for my clothes. They get washed (and ironed if I feel like it) regularly. I feel the importance of this is obvious….no one wants to be near people who smell bad and it’s also unhealthy.
My issue is as long as the person and their clothes are clean why should it matter what they choose to wear?
Back in my uni years (during those lovely long holidays that the real world of work has now obliterated) I worked in a large Bristol life insurance company where they ran a fairly strict dress code. I could not (and still can’t) see why they bother with it. All the office staff don’t have contact with people from other companies except via email and phone so they never see each other. It also caused several problems. The managers were constantly having to tell staff that what they were wearing was not part of the dress code and to not wear whatever it was again. The bigger issue for a lot of people was sexual inequality. Normally when you hear about sexually inequality in the workplace it is normally woman who are being mistreated but in my case it was completely the opposite. Men had to wear a top with a collar but women did not. Women could wear skirts but men were not allowed to wear shorts. Flip-flops were banned for everyone but sandals could be worn by women. One of my male friends was given a warning about having a 1 inch blunted spike earring in his left ear, but the gold hooped earrings almost large enough to be a tiara that were worn by a girl on the desk opposite were excepted without so much as a second glance.
Obviously I am writing this from a male perspective so I’m sure there were things that women were unhappy with as well, but my point is that surely this could of all been sorted if the company just scrapped the dress code and let people wear what they wanted.
Now I’ve only been employed by one design studio but I have had work experience placements in at least 4 other design/advertising places and all of them had no dress code. I felt that this led to the entire work environment being more relaxed and friendly which benefited the employers as the staff did not resent working in the studios anywhere as much at the staff in the insurance company.
Now I’m not trying to say that all jobs should not have a dress code. Something like a supermarket really benefits from it’s employees having a uniform because shoppers can easily see who the workers are if they want to ask for help.
Some people may try and dismiss my argument by saying that people would not take casually dressed people seriously but I would counter that by saying take a look at how Steve Jobs (the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple) dresses for his keynote speeches which is attended by 1000′s of business people. He chooses a casual look with trainers and Jeans. Wikipedia states that he has a key understanding of the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal so I feel that he is better qualified than most to know if dressing casually would mean than he would not be not taken as seriously!!
Now obviously this is just scratching the surface on a very deep debate (don’t even get me started about visible tattoo’s being frowned upon in the workplace) but what do you think? Am I full of crap or do you feel the same?